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Survival Guide


Once you have had two Owner Review's accepted, and your tester agreement is on file, you will be eligible to apply for testing gear.   After you apply, you will be notified via email if you are selected to test a piece of gear.   If you have been selected, you will be asked to send requested information to the test Moderator. Once you receive your gear, you must post an arrival notice to stating the name of the item, date of arrival and your full name.  You have one week (seven days) from date of arrival to post your Initial Report.

Your report needs to include the following information:

Name of item being tested prominently at the top of the page, followed by ‘Initial Report' and the date.

Smith Company Top of the Line Tent
             Initial Report
             January 1, 2006

The date should be in this form, rather than (for example) 1/1/2006, as the order of month and date are not internationally uniform. Do be sure that you have the equipment name listed in the exact form that is used on the manufacturer website or in their literature. As in the example above, please include in the report title the type of gear under report (in this case, tent).

Personal biographical information:

  •  Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Height – include metric/imperial conversions    See conversion table at:   At the bottom of that page is important information regarding measurements, their abbreviations, standards for rounding off numbers, etc. See the rules  
  • Weight – example: 5'7" (1.7 m)  (see above)
  • Email address (need not be clickable) You may use this format: jdoeATyourispDOTcom or jdoe(at)yourisp(dot)com
  • City (or region), state, and country where you live
Backpacking Background:
  • Typical weight carried, packing style (ultra light - heavy weight)
  • pace, area covered, terrain
  • tent, hammock, tarp?
  • Special activities while outdoors
  • 100 word limit – link to "Writing a Brief Biography" 
Product information:
  •   Manufacturer
  •   Year of manufacture *
  •   URL of top level manufacturer web site (not the item at the site, and only use the manufacturer's URL)
  •   Manufacturer's listed measurements, if pertinent to report*
  •   Actual measurements
  •    Listed weight*
  •    Weight as delivered -  Many testers use an accurate kitchen scale or a postal scale.               
  •    Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP from web site). e.g. $250 US *
*If this information isn't available on the manufacturer's website, please indicate that.

You will also need to include a written description of the item you are reviewing.   This would include such information as; texture, color, fit and any features of the item.   Also address any peripheral items included with item (tent-stakes, etc.), directions included with product - are they easy to follow and accurate, etc.

Is the product what you expected, in relation to the information provided on the manufacturer's website?  Are there any features you notice, that weren't mentioned?   Are there any construction flaws that are apparent?   Does having the gear in hand provide any other areas to test?  

Field information
When and where will you be testing the gear?

    • Location or locations where you propose to test the gear
    • Description of location (mountains, elevation, terrain, etc.)
    • Typical weather conditions expected (temperature, precipitation, etc.)
    • Style of hiking you plan to do during the test (lightweight, tent vs. tarp, etc.)
Test plan or strategy

How will you be testing the gear? A short test plan should be included in the Initial Report. This test plan should describe how you plan to test the item.  It should also include a brief description of the location (include type) and duration of any trips you plan on taking.

Pictures are required as part of the Initial Report.  If you are unable to take your own photos, you may use one from the manufacturer's website. Please remember to give credit to the manufacturer.     Pictures may not be over 100 kg, and require alternate text tags.  


Once you have completed your Initial Report, you should mail it to  In the subject line, include 'INITIAL REPORT', <item name>, <your name>.  You must also post the HTML version to the test folder on the website.  Check your links, and make sure your report looks like it should.  You will receive an edit from the test monitor.  Once you take care of the edits, post it to the appropriate folder on  It is not necessary to repost your edited report to the list.  A notice will only go out when a report is posted to the final folder.

If you have any questions, please ask your test monitor or moderator.

Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.

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BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson